Increasing the productivity of a team, no matter its size is often perceived as one of the top goals of a manager or leader. And while the topic has undoubtedly been covered countless times, the one thing that seems to be on everyone’s list is the use of all manner of productivity tools.
So, to help your small team out and prevent it from getting lost in the sheer number of productivity aids available, here is our list of the five best tools you can choose to add to your arsenal:
Let’s start by discussing an actual app, shall we?
One of the pillars of productivity is certainly focus. In fact, Cal Newport is even calling it the new IQ.
And considering how many distractions the modern workspace offers (from social media and the news to email, your calendar app, and all the other apps you need to use to make you more productive), being able to focus on a single task at a time is often the recipe for success.
Forest is a very people-conscious app that has tapped into the way our brains work. When youʼre focused and working on a specific task, the app grows a virtual tree, which will instantly die if you grab your phone to distract yourself.
It might not sound like the best motivation in the world, but indeed it works.
The app also features a time tracker that will tell you how much time you spend on your phone (and how much of it is practically wasted), and it also allows you to reach new ‘levels’ within the app, unlocking new trees and moving up on the ladder of focus.
In essence, the app is just a great way to help you teach your brain to focus on a single task, complete it, and move on, instead of trying to focus on seven different tasks all at once. And as you master this skill of laser-sharp dedication, your productivity (and output) levels will also improve.
Having given calendar and other time management apps a bit of a bad rep above, let’s rectify that oversight.
You certainly need one app that works as a calendar, enables you to seamlessly schedule everything from meetings to calls, and allows for plenty of flexibility in the process.
Woven is an enhanced calendar app that can help you manage your time better, keep track of it, plan out your day, and invite everyone who needs to attend anything from there. It’s an upgraded version of your regular calendar, and it can significantly help you cut down on the time you spend actually filling in your schedule.
That way, you will have a much firmer grasp on what everyone in the team is doing at what time and how best to coordinate tasks and meetings, plus everything else that a regular day needs to accommodate.
Finally, along with your calendar and focus app, you need a time tracker as well, as most of us are simply not sure where our time is spent during the day.
As you have now made your schedule much more efficient and are more focused on each task, you can track the time you need for everything, thus allowing yourself to make better decisions.
If you only need 19 minutes to reply to your emails on most mornings, you don’t need a 60-minute slot for that. And if you do leave a large slot open, chances are you will just let yourself procrastinate.
Enter RescueTime, a great tool that operates in the background, keeping track of what you do and for how long. It also comes with a block feature, meaning you can segregate yourself from social media and the news while working.
Prioritizing and taking breaks
Finally, there are two other tools we’d like to mention. They don’t have anything to do with technology, but they are a great help in becoming more productive.
First, teach yourself how to prioritize tasks based on two factors: deadline and mood.
If a certain task needs to get done today, that should naturally mean you focus on this task rather than picking up something that needs to be done by next week.
On the other hand, you will be in the mood to, for example, return calls rather than write out a report on some days. In that case, you can allow yourself to do what you feel like doing – as long as it also has the same priority level as the task you’re trying to avoid.
Another important aspect of productivity you can’t neglect is taking a break as often as you need to (at least once an hour), where you get up, stretch, and stop looking at a screen. That way, your mind will be fresh for much longer, and able to tackle whatever you’re facing.
While we all put a little too much pressure on productivity, it’s actually not as hard to attain as you might think. All you need to do is focus, have a great schedule in place, monitor how much time you need for each task, prioritize said tasks, and remember to take a break.